British Champions Day will close the curtain on the flat racing season this Saturday. Several top-class events are scheduled including the highly anticipated Champion Stakes. The incredibly lucrative event is famously the one in which the unbeaten Frankel made his last ever competitive appearance.
With such riches up for grabs in the last of the season’s really big domestic Group 1 events, it is no surprise to see the majority of top yards represented. We fancy the big guns may take some toppling this year, and we see the prize heading across the Irish Sea to team Ballydoyle for the very first time.
Next Race: TBD
The next renewal of this race has not been scheduled yet. We will update this once the schedule has been released for next season. The race info, trends and tips shown below will be updated for the next renewal once the final declarations have been made.
When making the switch from Newmarket to Ascot, the Champion Stakes increased its prize fund to a whopping £1.3m, making it the richest horse race in Britain at the time. In 2012 it was overtaken by the Derby however and failure to significantly up its purse since has seen it remain in the number two spot.
|Going||Distance||Grade||Prize Money||Runners||EW Terms|
|Good To Soft||1m2f||Group 1||£1,358,750||12 Runners||1/5 1-3|
Champion Stakes Betting Tips
Note: The following tips are from the last running of the race. Tips for the next renewal will be added once the final declarations have been made.
We look to have a cracking renewal in store this year with top class challengers from Britain, Ireland and further afield. As in the past two editions of this race, an ability to handle soft ground would look to be crucial to success. The going on the inner track is currently described as good to soft, but with more rain on the way this could yet deteriorate significantly.
AIDAN TO BREAK HIS DUCK?
There can’t be too many Group 1 contests on the British racing calendar which don’t feature the name of Aidan O’Brien on their roll of honour at least once. We do have one here though. The master of Ballydoyle has gone close in this before – saddling the runner up on four separate occasions – but has not yet entered the winner’s enclosure.
The Irish Champion bids to change that in 2019, and currently has four entries for the race in the shape of Magical, Hermosa, I Can Fly and Japan. Japan and Hermosa may yet be set alternative assignments though, whilst I Can Fly has work to do as one of the rank outsiders in the field.
Magical on the other hand does boast excellent claims. In the absence of Japan, this daughter of Galileo will be the clear top-rated runner in the field – still having a couple of pounds to spare even once the three year old weight allowances are factored in. A solid fifth in the Arc last time out, when doing best of those to race up with the pace, she handles soft ground, is a dual Group 1 winner at the trip, and landed the Fillies and Mares race at this meeting last year.
OR DOES IT ALL ADD UP TO HAGGAS SUCCESS?
Another relatively big-name trainer yet to have his name up in lights at the end of this race is Newmarket based William Haggas. If the market is any guide, this year may represent his best chance yet of registering a first success in the race, with his five year old Addeybb coming in for sustained support in the lead up to the race.
Two from three at the track – with the latest of those wins coming in fairly effortless style over course and distance in June – there’s a lot to like about his chances. On bare form he probably wouldn’t be anywhere near favourite for this but with all bar one of his seven career wins coming on good to soft or worse going, he does appear to have conditions coming firmly in his favour. He hasn’t be able to finish within nine lengths of the winner in his two previous efforts in Group 1 company, but is expected to fare better than that here at the very least.
Of those at bigger prices, Andrew Balding’s Fox Tal looks interesting on the back of a pretty spectacular comeback run at Doncaster recently, but for us, the best each way option in the line-up would look to be the Japanese mare, Deirdre.
This five year old daughter of Harbinger didn’t pull up any trees on her first start in this country when only sixth in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes, but has put in two cracking efforts since. Upsetting the likes of Hermosa, Channel and Mehdaayih when landing the Group 1 Nassau Stakes at Goodwood, she went on to fill third spot in the Irish Champion Stakes last time out. That effort was really much better than the bare form would suggest too, with the mare having to sit and suffer behind a wall of horses before running on late around the outside.
Final Verdict: Magical To Win
Addeybb looks interesting under his favoured conditions, but has flopped in a Group 1 on soft ground around here before and, unproven at the very highest level, would seem short enough. An each way punt on Deirdre is more appealing, but her one effort on a slow surface resulted in a disappointing effort over this course and distance. We expect her to fair better than that here, but the best option looks to be a straight win bet on Magical.
Other than her fifth place in the Arc last time out, the only horse to have finished in front of the O’Brien filly this season is none other than the brilliant Enable. There wouldn’t look to be anything of that calibre amongst the opposition here, and she is taken to land a well-deserved fourth career Group 1 victory.
Champion Stakes Winners
It’s been a while since we have witnessed a massive shock in this race, but four of the last 10 winners have come from outside the top three in the betting. Favourites have been victorious in the last three editions though.
The older runners have held the edge over the classic generation of late, with the three year olds winning only two of the past 10 renewals.
|2018||Cracksman||5/6||John Gosden||Frankie Dettori|
|2017||Cracksman||13/8||John Gosden||Frankie Dettori|
|2016||Almanzor||11/8||Jean-Claude Rouget||Christophe Soumillon|
|2015||Fascinating Rock||10/1||Dermot Weld||Pat Smullen|
|2014||Noble Mission||7/1||Jane Cecil||James Doyle|
The Triple Crown has always been the Holy Grail of flat racing. Every trainer and owner dreams of having a horse who has the pace to combination of pace and stamina required to win the 1,000 or 2,000 Guineas, the Oaks or the Derby and the St Leger, but practicality dictates that flat racing is a specialist endeavour now.
Although there is a thriving stayers’ division, many of the very best and most expensively bought horses in racing stick to the lucrative middle distances. That much is clear by the quality of the fields assembled each year for the Champion Stakes, a race which plays the role of the final of the Middle Distance division of the British Champion Series.
ALWAYS A KEY MIDDLE DISTANCE CONTEST
The impressive history of the Champion Stakes begins in 1877. Then run at Newmarket, the race wasted no time in catching the attention of racing fans and the wider sporting public as it was won by a number of Classic winners in those early years.
The Champion Stakes continued with its impressive early pace and the one mile, two furlong contest quickly became one of the most important and lucrative races of the entire flat racing season. With winners of the calibre of Pretty Polly, Fairway and Rockfel before the introduction of the current grading system, it was no surprise that it became a Group 1 straightaway in 1971.
Not only has it remained at the top level since but the Champion Stakes has actually had its reputation boosted in more recent years. It was included in the Breeders’ Cup Challenge in 2009 and 2010 with an invitation into the Breeders’ Cup Turf for the winner and then became part of the new British Champions Series in 2011.
The Champion Stakes is now the final race in the Middle Distance Series after the Coronation Cup, the Epsom Derby, the Prince of Wales’s Stakes, the Eclipse Stakes, the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes and the International Stakes.
The importance of the race was hammered home with the increase in the prize fund to £1,800,000 which saw the Champion Stakes become the richest flat race in Britain for a short period.
FRANKEL’S LAST STAND
The middle distance ranks of flat racing has always included big stars. Some are bigger than others though and for many racing fans Frankel is the best of the lot. The superstar signed his three-year-old season off with victory on British Champions Day in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, and then returned a year later to end his career with another win in the Champion Stakes.
Frankel’s retirement to stud meant that he never got the chance to defend the Champion Stakes but it’s a feat which has been achieved before. Tristan is the only three time winner with victories in 1882, 1883 and 1884 although two of those wins were dead heats.
In total, 13 horses have won the Champion Stakes more than once. Two of those on the list, Lemberg and Dynamiter, were ridden by either one of the race’s most successful jockeys, Danny Maher and Charlie Elliott. Maher’s six wins all came inside an incredible decade at the beginning of the 20th century, whilst Elliott’s six triumphs range from 1923 to 1952. If it’s unlikely that either jockey will have their record beaten then it’s nigh on impossible that any trainer will surpass Alec Taylor Jr’s tally of eight wins (recorded between 1903 and 1925).
MULTIPLE CHAMPION STAKES WINNING HORSES
|Twice Over||Henry Cecil||2009||2010|
|Alborada||Sir Mark Prescott||1998||1999|
|Brigadier Gerard||Dick Hern||1971||1972|
|Dynamiter||Charles Semblat / J Glynn||1951||1952|
|Wychwood Abbot||Ted Leader||1935||1936|
|Lemberg||Alec Taylor Jr||1910||1911|